Harry Maguire used England match against Denmark at Wembley Stadium, London, to prove that his mental strength as a defender is growing weaker by the day. The 27-year-old Englishman should be among the very few defenders in the world that should never earn two yellow cards and a red card within the first 31 minutes of any soccer match. Unfortunately, that was exactly what the Manchester United captain did on Wednesday, October 14, against Denmark.
Though some critics have criticized the formation and tactical decisions of England’s coach, Gareth Southgate, Harry Maguire’s performance was even more laughable than one can imagine. As one of the most trusted members of Southgate’s squad, it was expected that Maguire will start ahead of any other options especially in a game Southgate decided to play defensive tactics.
The coach could be comfortable to go defensive because he had the assurance that there was a player in his defense line that left Leicester City to Manchester United in the summer of 2019 for a whopping £80 million. Southgate also felt that the player was so good from the perspective of the manager of Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that he was made the captain of the Red Devils in less than three months after his world record-breaking move.
However, Southgate did not put into consideration that since August when Harry Maguire got into trouble while holidaying in Greece, the once fearless defender has not remained the same.
Harry Maguire and his woes
Recall that Maguire was involved in an alleged scuffle in Greece which led to his arrest. He was later sued to court for repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees, and insult. Though he pleaded not guilty to all the charges, the Greece court found him guilty.
The Manchester United captain was then slammed with a suspended sentence of 21 months and 10 days in prison. He appealed the case which forced the sentence to be suspended temporarily.
Hence, when the 2020-2021 Premier League season started, the question was whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would allow Maguire to remain United’s captain or not. Lo and behold, he continued as the captain of the club and a regular in the team.
Before England vs Denmark’s UEFA Nations League game on Wednesday which ended 0-1 in favor of Denmark, Maguire’s mental strength was tested in the Premier League against Crystal Palace on September 19 when he could not help United from avoiding a 3-1 defeat.
The biggest mental test came on October 4 as he led United to a 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford against Tottenham Hotspur. That was not the climax of it, he made a mess of his mental strength when he could not fight for his teammate, Anthony Martial, when he was red-carded in the Manchester United vs Tottenham’s game.
Footage from the match showed that Tottenham’s Erik Lamela put his hands on Martial’s face. The Frenchman then decided to revenge. Unfortunately for him, he was red-carded while Lamela was left unpunished.
After Martial was sent off, United’s Marcus Rashford was heard saying: “Nothing for that elbow? It’s the same!” Then, Maguire responded that “It’s not violent conduct, they’ve checked.” Rashford went on to say: “He’s elbowed him!” But Maguire insisted that: “They’ve checked it and said it’s not.”
When this conversation was made public after the match, United’s fans began to urge United’s coach to take off the captain’s hand-band from him which is beginning to look very possible.
So, on Wednesday, Harry Maguire proved that he has lost his confidence. He earned his first yellow card after he childishly launched himself on Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen. That punishment was not enough to make him more discipline as he launched himself at Kasper Dolberg a few minutes later. The tackle on the Denmark’s striker injured the striker and Maguire was red-carded. The two incidents happened in the first 31 minutes of the match.
Harry Maguire with a horrible first touch before earning a second yellow in a sliding attempt to keep the ball, seeing himself sent off in the first half against Denmark. #ENGDEN pic.twitter.com/3pAJ23wjV3— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) October 14, 2020
This makes Harry Maguire the third player to be sent off for the England men’s team at Wembley – after Paul Scholes (versus Sweden in June 1999) and Steven Gerrard (versus Ukraine in September 2012).
All these are proof that the defender’s mental strength is growing weaker by the day and the best gift he can get right now is to be allowed to enjoy some time off from the game to clear his head.